“How will I know who I can become if I don’t give myself the chance to try new things, to push myself beyond my normal boundaries? Who might I be if I am away from the things that I currently use to define myself?”
― Eileen Cook

 

So for the last few years I’ve wanted a DSLR camera. You know, one of the ones with the interchangeable lenses which takes the really amazing photos you see in magazines. Or the ones framed up on people’s walls. Not that I really thought I could be a professional photographer or anything. I just loved the art aspect of it.

Well, after tons of research and tons of second guessing, I finally bought the bullet this last week and bought one. It’s not anything super fancy, but all the reviews said it would work really well for an amateur who was just beginning to learn. And that’s definitely me. It’s a Nikon D3400. I’ve used Nikons before, and knew I liked them. I knew they had good quality. And I found a great deal on a package so I got the camera and the case and a bunch of lenses and filters and really just everything I needed to start.

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The new camera!

And when I got it Monday, I just started. I started taking a ton of pictures in my backyard and the trails around my house. Experimenting with the lenses. Learning. I knew a bunch of the photos would be crap, but I didn’t care. Because I finally realized something.

Backtrack to a while ago. I saw this photo of on a nature Facebook page of a kingfisher diving into water and it and it’s reflection were perfectly centered and mirroring each other. It was amazing. And the caption underneath read something to the effect of the photographer had finally captured this amazing shot after taking over 2000 photos.

Over 2000 photos. Which meant that for him to get this one perfect shot, he had to fail a TON of other times. And he knows what he’s doing. He has a lot of experience.

Which means that I could spend a whole afternoon taking shots, and get absolutely nothing usable. But it doesn’t mean the time is wasted. Because with every shot I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m having fun and exploring a new side to myself. And it gets me outside and exploring and having a great time.

Sometimes it’s really easy to talk ourselves out of things. I do all the time. It seems too complicated or expensive, or we’re too afraid of what other people will think about us. We see these finished products and go “I can never do that”, so we don’t even try. I say this because I think that all the time.

So I finally got the camera. Saved my money and horded my gift certificates and just bit the bullet and got it. And it’s been a blast!

Although I have to admit, when the box arrived I got a little overwhelmed. This lens and that lens and cleaners and filters and flashes, oh my! I ran out of room in my gear bag. Not to mention the camera itself. So many options!

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The gear bag completely stuffed full

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So many settings…

Which is why I decided to just go out and play and see what the camera could do. See what I could figure out on my own, see what I was good at, what I wasn’t.

Oh, I’ve read a ton of articles. Like anything else, there’s no end of how-to’s and videos and instruction to becoming “the best photographer ever” on the Internet. There are a lot of good tips. Like the one I got about creating line and movement within a photograph, and the two-thirds rule. I’m sure I’ll keep watching and reading and picking up a lot more.

But what I did the other day was just fun. It was going out and trying something new and enjoying the moment. It was seeing the world a different way. Slowing down and actually seeing things, instead of just running past them on my way to something else, or worrying about dinner or bills or obligations. It was just me and nature. Me and the camera. The world through a viewfinder.

I worry a lot about what other people think. Some of it’s normal, some of it’s exaggerated with my anxiety. It makes me afraid to just go out and try things, because I make up in my mind what other people will think, and it’s always negative. I come up with all of these excuses. Or I don’t want to be seen as copying someone else. Or I’m too afraid that I’m doing something wrong.

But I love the photos that I took Monday. Not all of them turned out. Some were fuzzy. Some that I thought looked so amazing in the field were just kind of blah on the screen. Yet some were pretty amazing.

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I can’t wait to get out and take more. To explore new places. Find new things to take pictures of. Learn new ways to make my pictures better.

Don’t wait to try something new. Don’t worry about what other people will think or that you ‘won’t be good enough’. Because what other people think doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it brings you joy. That you have fun. And it makes you happy. That’s all that matters.

Whatever it is, Go for it!